Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Trip that Didn't Happen

To some that know me, it's hard to fathom how I could miss a canoe trip! To others, its just grief to know that my priorities center around canoeing. So how did dates that were set for a canoe trip end up being another work week?!!!

Jun 8-12 was set aside for a 6 day canoe trip. At least I thought! It had been about a month since my last trip, (I know what you're thinking! - big deal!) which is almost an eternity for a paddler during prime canoeing season! So as you see, I was way overdue for another trip. Lots happened during the month I was away from water which was totally warranted, but it was time to get back to business!

Black flies swarming inside the fly - Chapleau-
Nemegosenda River trip

Well as the date approached, we slowly started getting ready. 'We' meaning Marylou and I. I was checking out routes, preparing equipment, looking over our stash of food, while Marylou was listening to "bug propaganda" from the media and friends. While I will totally agreed that this time of year is certainly prime time for bugs, I was, pardon the pun,..bugged.

Marylou had heard reports that the bugs were "the worst its been in years", "record number of larvae hatchings", "bumper crop of bugs due to the long winter and wet spring", etc, etc, etc. There was no shortage of hype surrounding bugs. I even heard it myself as well! What did I think?, - "Oh well, I guess I'll be getting a few more bites this year!". Normally, it is cause for some justifiable concern, but we were prepared. We have bug shirts that that been well tested (mesh slightly torn), a bug shelter (best invention ever!), bug dope (natural & Deet), and a good sense of humor! (or is it tolerance?!) That's why I couldn't understand her anxiety, as she has dealt with very bad conditions before. Did she think it was worse?

If there are bugs, don't leave home without it! - a bug shelter
such as the Eureka VCS can make life so much
more enjoyable in the bush

My problem with all this information is validating it. Bugs numbers are dependant on many environmental conditions and circumstances that even in the same approximate location, the number of bugs can differ greatly. A good example is comparing the bugs on a portage trail opposed to being out on the water 30 feet from shore. Maybe one lake has a bumper crop of dragonflies or a multitude of insect eating birds which quickly decimates the local bug population. And then look as the people reporting the 'conditions'. Media from the city reporting in cottage country - they would be terrorized by low bug conditions let alone normal bug conditions! Or even the weekend cottager who decides to open the place up, only to find they inadvertently went at the peek bug hatching week and experiences more that the usual number. Not to say that all information provided is questionable, because it's not, but it all has to be taken with a grain of salt. Even from one person to the next, it can greatly differ how people cope with bugs, so 'information' is all relative.

Now I will admit, I don't like biting bugs very much either. (who really does?!) If there was no reasonable way to cope with them, maybe I would have some hesitations about heading out in the bush in prime bug season as well. But we do, so nothing is going to stop me from paddling and experiencing things that are exclusive to this time of year. Would you want to miss high water levels for whitewater paddling, beautiful blossoming spring flowers, sightings of juvenile wildlife, and exclusivity in popular parks? Nope, not me!

Even I will admit getting bitten by bugs isn't fun!

Anyhow, we didn't go due to Marylou's real concern. Of course I was disappointed and questioned the logic, but I didn't want to push either. Especially since if the reports were true and we did end up going, she would be miserable. And that means I would probably be just as miserable too! Remember, humor is one of the things needed to deal with bugs, so trust me, if Marylou wasn't sharing my 'humor', I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be the bugs that would have been my demise. I also contemplated going solo, but since the decision was so last minute, I just gave in as well and decided to go back to work. Besides, I will have to say, it is much easier to deal with bugs with someone else, probably because you have someone else to share in your misery, but it could also be because they have someone else to bite other that you!

In the end, as much as I would have loved to go, I'm just happy I was able to go back to work and save the vacation time for later. Marylou ended up staying home and catching up on some rest and looking after all the odds and ends that needed to be looked after.

What's Next? Well really, this wasn't a trip, so it somewhat doesn't apply. However there is a next! Since we didn't go to Temagami, we are going there for 5 days to paddle the Obabika river in a couple weeks. Trust me, Marylou is not going to squeak out of this one!

Post Note: Well, we just got back from the Obabika river trip just recently. On our way up, we stopped at the Swift/Tracs Outfitter to pick up the gloves that I left there from the South River trip. (thanks Bernice!) During our brief chat, I had to ask how the bugs were. The owner reported that mosquitoes were more numerous in the morning and evenings (normal), but that the black flies weren't too bad this year. Her statement was all that was needed to quell Marylou's doubts, questions and fears. And you know, I couldn't resist saying, "I told you so!" Needless to say, it was a lesson well learned, with hardly a squeak from me. (okay, a little) I have now brought Marylou back to the "dark side" and have shown her the way! Bugs or no bugs, here we come! Just be prepared!
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